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Beethoven's Symphonies Ancient instruments Ninth symphony Tenth symphony Transcriptions List

This section is not intended to be a review of existing CDs. Good critics have done this already, and are experts on the subject. I just wish to draw your attention to particular works and interpretations.
Title The transcriptions for piano by Franz Liszt

Beethoven on cd
Transcription for piano
Symphonies 2 and 5
Piano: Konstantin Scherbakov
Naxos 1999
Complete piano Music - Vol 15

Beethoven on cd
Transcription for piano
Symphonies 1 and 3
Piano: Konstantin Scherbakov
Naxos 2000
Complete piano Music - Vol 18

Do you know Beethoven's symphonies by heart, and each intonation of all the interpretations you posess?


But have you ever listed to the transcriptions for piano by Franz Liszt? It took the virtuoso pianist and composer an important part of his life to make these transcriptions.

The result is surprising and merits our attention.

There exist several interpretations of these transcriptions, and at least one complete set sold by Teldec, played by Cyprien Katsaris...

Beethoven on cd
Transcription for piano
Symphonies 4 and 8
Piano: Cyprien Katsaris
Digital - Teldec
Beethoven on cd
Transcription for piano
Symphony 6
Piano: Glenn Gould
Sony Classical 1993
Glenn Gould Edition
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Title Ninth Symphony: Transcription for piano by Richard Wagner
Beethoven by Wagner
Bis - 1998

Richard Wagner also carried out a transcription of the Ninth Symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven.

But he made his transcription in 1831 for piano, soloists and choir.

An opportunity to hear this work in a new light, and performed with spirit by the Japanese pianist Noriko Ogawa.

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Title Symphony No. 2 transcribed for piano trio

It was in 1803 that Beethoven realised the transcription for trio of his second symphony. It was not always possible for the music enthusiast of the time to pay for the services of a complete orchestra.

In addition, many composers adapted their works for a reduced formation: harmony (wind group), quintet, quartet or, like this one, trio (piano, violin, violoncello).

Without renouncing the symphonic version, this version is remarkable for its delicacy and finesse. A little gem.

The CD also includes the 4th piano concerto, transcribed for piano and string quintet (Rediscovered and reconstructed by Hans-Werner Küthen).

Cd Beethoven

Robert Levin, pianoforte
ans the musicians of the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Archiv Produktion 1999

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Title The 6th Symphony transcribed for string sextet

In the time in which Beethoven lived, the symphonies were readily transcribed, which allowed the work to be performed by smaller groups, even sometimes a single instrument, mostly the piano.

Thus, Michael Gotthardt Fischer (1773-1829) realized an adaptation of the 6th symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven for string sextet.

The Köllner Streichsextett, a renowned formation and recognised in Germany, enable us to discover this work with subtlety.  It is remarkable to note at which point every instrument, violin, viola and cello, takes its correct part, or that of the winds, and the tuttis are very rare.

What is remarkable, with this type of transcription,  is the refinement of the work and the quotation of those voices which we hear  little or sometimes not at all in the orchestra, especially because the violins are too numerous.

Accompanying the sixth of Beethoven we find  a work by Augusto Valente “Six to midnight”, decidedly more modern.

CD Beethoven
Das Kölner Strichsextett
Aulos - Musikado - 2003

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Title The 7th Symphony for four handed piano, and other works

The Prague Piano Duo delights us with this original CD.  If the transcriptions realized by Hugo Ulrich, for two pianos, of the symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven are common as printed music, it is probably the first recording on CD of this work.  The pair are heard wonderfully and the colour of this work, and the others which appear on this CD, is intense and musical.

  • Sonata in D major  Opus 6;
  • 6 variations in D major on the lied Ich danke dein - WoO 74;
  • 3 marches  Opus 45;
  • 8 variations in C major on an air of Count Waldstein  WoO 67;
  • Seventh Symphony for four-handed piano, Hugo Ulrich version.

To listen to again and again.

CD Beethoven
Zdenka and Martin Hrsel
Praga Digitals - 2005

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Title The 7th symphony for Harmonie
Beethoven on cd
Accent (Belgium)
Recorded in 1984
The Harmonie consisted in 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 horns and 2 bassoons, with another wind instrument such as a contrabassoon. Since every nobleman wished to have musicians, this kind of orchestra could be afford by some of them, more easily than a complete orchestra.

However, there were only few composers who would compose for harmonie. The editors decided to have famous pieces of music arranged for harmonie, sometimes with the consent of the original composer, sometimes without it...

Wenzel Sedlak did the arrangement of 11 sections of Fidelio, supervised by Beethoven according to the Wiener Zeitung dated July 1st, 1814. He also realized the version for harmonie of both the 7th and the 8th symphonies, published in 1816.

Of course, one cannot find in such recordings the strength and the complete harmony of Beethoven's symphonies. But, it was such interpretations that Beethoven's contemporaries would listen to, more often than with a compete orchestra during a concert.

This Cd contains the 7th symphony, opus 92, and Fidelio's overture, opus 72b, in their adaptation for harmonie, played by Octophoros.

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Title Transcription of Beethoven's symphonies for organ

Cd Beethoven - Organ

Ernst-Erich Stender
Ornement Records - 2001

Here are the symphonies of Beethoven, transcribed for the organ by Ernst-Erich Stender: the first and the fifth.

The first conserves the lightness and frivolity, which is not destroyed by the power of the organ. This is a little marvel.

The fifth, in itself, is less convincing. The transcription is somewhat sacrilegious, and the listener is sometimes overwhelmed by the deluge of sound. A shame.

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Cd Beethoven - Organ

Ernst-Erich Stender
Ornement Records - 2002

Ernst-Erich Stender also realised the transcription of the Ninth Symphony. As before, certain flights are superb, true and full of harmony. At other times, particularly in the tuttis, the notes become muddled and the melody seems to dissappear.

An uneven transcription but interesting for lovers of the organ…

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Title Transcriptions of the symphonies for string quintet

Pro Arte Antiqua Praha is a quintet from Prague which play on period instruments. But beyond the very warm sound of these instruments, there is the quality of the adaptions of the symphonies of Beethoven which increase respect.

To be transported to the time, amongst friends in a curiously scored little piece, where some talented musicians permit us to access the music of the master of Vienna.

They are four little jewels, which you may seek in the Czech Republic (for the 5th and 6th symphonies), or in Japan (for the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 8th symphonies)…

Cds Beethoven

Pro Arte Antiqua Praha
Pony Canyon - Kajimavision - Arstmon
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Also see the sketches of the symphonies
Many thanks to Hannah SALTER for her translation of this page from French into English
© Dominique PREVOT
Music Sheet Plus

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